I was 15 when I left home, I am 18 now. My mother sold tortillas and my father sold things on the street. I have six sisters and one brother. My mother did not want me to leave. I left alone, then met up with seven women and a coyote. We went through the desert and then we took an inflatable boat. When I got here [to Postville, Iowa], everything was so different, the food was different. At the factory my job was to cut chicken into parts and clean it. I worked 14 hours a day, 6 days a week. I was 16 years old, I worked for 11 months before the raid. In the beginning we made $6.25 per hour, after the strike we made $7.50. I got three months off when I had my baby. On the day of raid everyone was running, running from the plant, running from immigration. We were trying to get out but there were too many of us and too many of them. There were hiding places upstairs, where they plucked the chickens. Maybe there were dogs with the immigration men. One of them shouted, ‘You can run, you can hide, but we will find you and pull you up by your hair.’ We all thought we were going to be killed, so we threw the knives under the table so they couldn’t use them against us.
A, age 18, in Postville, Iowa
I am 16, I left home when I was 14. My family was all farmers. I have seven brothers and sisters. I came with a coyote. My parents didn’t want me to come. It took seven days to go through the desert. We didn’t have water. We walked and then took a boat. Someone waited for me outside the desert and then brought me in a car to Postville. Here, I live with my brother, four of us live together. At the factory I was a sausage maker. I worked 12 hours a day and 6 days a week. When I was not working I was sleeping. The money I earned I used to pay off the coyote, whatever was left I sent to my family. I talk to my parents every week. I want to stay here and work. I want to stay here my whole life.
E, age 16, in Postville, Iowa
The Postville Raid was a raid at the Agriprocessors Inc. kosher slaughterhouse and meat packing plant in Postville, Iowa, USA on May 12, 2008, executed by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The raid was the largest single raid of a workplace in U.S. history until that date, and resulted in nearly 400 arrests of immigrant workers. The majority served a five months prison-sentence before being deported. There were 18 juveniles.